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World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty Stresses Land Governance

Worldbanklogo8 April 2013: On the occasion of the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, the World Bank Group stressed the importance of land governance and its relationship to agriculture productivity and food security.

The Conference, which convened in Washington DC, from 8-11 April 2013 under the theme "Moving towards transparent land governance: Evidence-based next steps," aimed to share good practices and advance reforms in six thematic areas: securing land rights and improving land use at the grassroots; adjusting laws and institutions to address urban expansion and governance; innovative approaches towards spatially enabling land administration and management; supporting a continuum of rights in a decentralized environment; mobilizing the private sector to improve land governance; and sharing benefits from exploitation of land- based resources.

Among the key instruments to advance these topics, the World Bank endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests. It has also launched a multi-stakeholder consultative process to review and update its social and environmental safeguards, a process that will consider land acquisition in the context of the Voluntary Guidelines. With regard to the private sector, it was highlighted that the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has been working to improve transparency in cases of land transfers from governments to the private sector and conducting early-risk assessment procedures to evaluate the impact of investments in large land areas on food security.

The World Bank also noted that it has scaled-up its work, with the goal of addressing the availability of arable land for agriculture and food security, in the following areas: land governance by increasing transparency, accountability and participation in decision making of multiple stakeholders; protection of rights of land owners and recognition of smallholder farmer's benefits; promotion of gender equality regarding land tenure; and advancement of environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture investments. [World Bank Press Release] [2013 Land and Poverty Conference Website]